Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The document above is a copy of the handwritten letter sent by
my great-grandfather Fuller S. Runyan
to genealogist Wilbur C. Runyan, Jr., of South Carolina.
This copy was given to me by my dear genealogy buddy, 
the late Hazel (Beck) Sheehan of Berks Co., PA.

One of the best parts about genealogy is the cameraderie among researchers.  There is joy in simply meeting a fellow tree-climber - say, at the library or in a courthouse basement, or even on a web-based community - and there is unabashed delight if the two of you happen to be climbing around the same tree.  It's safe to say that the vast majority of researchers feel exactly the same way.

Particularly, we revel in opportunities for collaboration.  For me, whenever I find something that has been difficult to track down, or even if I merely happen upon a serendipitous discovery while looking for something else - I can hardly wait to share it.  Likewise, I am like a child at Christmas whenever someone is able to hand me something that I need. 

Put another way - anything that any of us has collected/compiled/discovered, etc. is made available to anyone who wants it - a gift that should be, and is, cherished and appreciated.

All of the above is true, but let me add this on behalf of myself and every other researcher - you can have whatever I have, but if you got it from me, I want to be cited as a source. 

Not because I created anything, or because I "own" the material; facts are facts, after all, no matter who brought them to light.  Right?

I want credit, a nod in my direction if you will, for one simple reason -  it's because I want other researchers to contact me.  Information flows both ways - I may have additional data that they can use, and they may have some for me. 

If someone sees the fruit of my work in somebody else's published genealogy - or, more likely nowadays, an online family tree - without citation, you can imagine the untold potential opportunities that may be missed.

Collaboration is not only what makes this hobby so satisfying, it's what makes it work.

So, I hope all of you reading this will make a pledge with me - in appreciation for all of those who have paved the way before us, and for those we meet along the way - to show that we are grateful, out loud, and in writing.

Happy Hunting -